Zach Wilson gives his pick for the NFL's GOAT.
Zach Wilson, NY Jets, Getty Images

Who does Zach Wilson think is the GOAT?

You cannot enjoy a day on social media without stumbling upon a heated debate over who is the “greatest of all time” – or the “GOAT,” for short – in a certain category.

The NBA’s GOAT debate is probably the world’s most common. Michael Jordan versus LeBron James duels are a daily feature on Twitter, Instagram, or whatever platform you prefer. Jordan recently added another feather in his cap as the reviews for James’ “Space Jam 2” fell short of the reception for Jordan’s 1996 original.

The conversation is a bit more wide-open in the NFL, featuring far too many players for their acting talent in cash-grab films to come into play.

Quarterbacks rule the NFL’s GOAT debate. However, there are plenty of candidates at non-quarterback positions who have had convincing arguments made in their favor. From Jerry Rice to Lawrence Taylor to Jim Brown, there is a convincing GOAT argument to be made for a number of different players throughout NFL history.

Ultimately, though, most GOAT debaters elect to vouch for a player at the game’s most important position. Classic passers like Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Otto Graham, John Elway, and Dan Marino get their share of votes, while modern throwers like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees have been thrown into the mix. Some are already considering Patrick Mahomes as part of the conversation.

But there is one quarterback who has emerged as the consensus GOAT, and he is the man that current New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson sees as the greatest to ever strap on a helmet.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday about sharing a birthday with Tom Brady – who is twice his age (44 vs. 22) – Wilson submitted his GOAT vote for the seven-time Super Bowl champ.

“Brady, in my opinion, is the greatest of all time and I don’t think you can argue that. Wherever he’s at, they’re winning … I’ve always been a Rodgers guy because of the flashiness, but the thing that’s important in the game is winning.”

Wilson says that it’s “pretty dang cool” to share a birthday with Brady. He also made sure to remind longtime fans and media how old they are by stating, “I’d say one of the craziest parts is I think I was 1 in his first year in the NFL.”

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Is Brady actually the GOAT?

Brady is clearly the greatest winner in NFL history. He has two more Super Bowl rings than any other individual player (former 49ers and Cowboys linebacker Todd Haley ranks second with five) and more Super Bowl wins than any individual franchise.

However, if we’re choosing the GOAT based on individual performance quality, Brady’s case is not very strong.

Check out the all-time top 10 quarterbacks (min. 3,000 pass attempts) based on Pro Football Reference’s Passer Rating Index, which compares each quarterback’s career passer rating to the league average over their career so we can compare across eras (100 represents a league-average quarterback):

  1. Steve Young: 127
  2. Joe Montana: 123
  3. Aaron Rodgers: 121
  4. Len Dawson: 120
  5. Peyton Manning: 118
  6. Drew Brees: 117
  7. Kurt Warner: 117
  8. Russell Wilson: 117
  9. Tom Brady: 116
  10. Tony Romo: 116

There are a handful of quarterbacks who have been more dominant than Brady from a production standpoint. His career passer rating of 97.3, which is seventh-best in league history when left unadjusted, stands as the ninth-best when adjusted to league average.

Brady is only ninth in career passing yards per game (263.1), 25th in career touchdown pass rate (5.5%), and 29th in career yards per pass attempt (7.5).

It all depends on what you value in your GOAT. Is winning important to you? Or are you trying to select the greatest player with no regard to team accomplishments?

That’s a debate for another day (well, every day for some of those who call Twitter home). What we do know is that Wilson is scheduled to clash with Brady and the Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium on January 2.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at] - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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